Is technology ready for shopping the Olympics?

Winter Olympics (
Visa introduces shopping technology for winter Olympics.

Visa is unveiling new shopping technology in time for the Olympic Games that will allow consumers to dress like their favorite U.S. athlete. Fans watching the games in PyeongChang this winter will be able to buy apparel with just a few clicks using Visa Checkout. But are consumers and retailers ready to offer this experience?

This will be the first time that NBC will direct viewers watching the Olympic Games to a newly launched platform where they can browse and purchase gear. Clothing will cover everything from game apparel to medal podium formal wear. 

Visa also recently announced wearable payment devices such as the payment-enabled gloves, pins and stickers, all available in South Korea. The wearables allow consumers to make secure payments with a simple tap. Items will be updated in real-time throughout the Games. 

So are consumers ready for this shopping experience come February? 

"As with any new shopping channel, it all depends on awareness and ease of adoption," Michael Levine, vice president of marketing at Photon, told FierceRetail. "Will the process be explained well enough in advance for consumers to take advantage of it? Will the shopping experience be convenient? The merchandise will most definitely be unique and I suspect Olympic advocates will want the merchandise."

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Levine points out that with any technologies, there are always the challenges of bringing the user experience to scale. And Visa will have to be on call because it will be hard to know in advance which merchandise will be the hot sellers. 

With all of the new technology being tested in 2017, there are both hits and misses. According to Levine, the phone still trumps all other devices for providing a truly unique and easy shopping experience. 

"The next frontier is by far voice and winning in the home with voice-enabled shopping experiences. We haven't even touched the surface of the potential. I could even see a connection from TV to a voice activated device (perhaps why Apple is reportedly buying Shazam), allowing for easier ordering for this VISA initiative—because TV Commerce is just not there yet," he said. On the flip side, Levine does not think anyone has truly figured out TV Commerce yet. 

"We are definitely at a crossroads for digital commerce. The old traditional desktop commerce platforms are not equipped to handle the new commerce experiences that are starting to surface. The CMS platform providers may end up winning out and commerce may go back to its grassroots of simply supplying secure payment services," he added.